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Emergencies declared in the Maritimes


Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

November 10, 2010 — Rain is tapering across the Maritimes, but major flooding is still a concern in some communities.

Rainfall totals over last five days
Rainfall totals over last five days

The Maritime provinces are used to getting hit with heavy rain and gusty winds in November - but not on this scale.

Over the last five days, parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have been drenched with torrential rain. The Fundy shores have been hit the hardest, with more than 220 mm falling in Yarmouth, and about 170 mm soaking Saint John. More than 300 millimetres of rain fell in Mechanic Settlement, breaking a local rainfall record.

Already, some cities in the Maritimes are well on their way to breaking all time rainfall records for the month of November. Moncton's current record is 168 mm of rain, and the city has had 142 mm so far this month.

The heavy rain has led to major flooding in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. A state of emergency was issued for parts of Nova Scotia, including parts of Yarmouth, Barrington and Argyle, due to flooding and damage. Streets have been left looking like rivers, and fields are looking more like lakes. In some cases, people have had no choice but to get around by boat.

On Tuesday, the flood waters were so strong that they caused yet another bridge to collapse in Yarmouth county. The truss bridge in Tusket gave way in the late evening hours.

Ramona Jennex is the Minister of Emergency Management in Nova Scotia and she says around 130 families have been evacuated due to rising water levels. Jennex says that residents will not be able to return home until the waters recede, which could be days away.

“We're not in the position at this point to even begin to clean up. Our water levels are extremely high. Interestingly enough a number of days ago, places that had a field has eight feet of water, people are stranded to the point that they have to be brought in and out by boat,” notes Jennex.

Flood damage in Elgin, NB
Flood damage in Elgin, NB

In Dieppe, New Brunswick, entire streets were washed away. City workers say they haven't seen flood damage of this magnitude in years.

“It was tough,” said David Knowles of Public Works Dieppe. “We had a lot of flood drainage issues with leaves and plugged drains and stuff but this was the worst one we had in some time.”

Knowles is reminding Maritimers not to drive through pools of water on the road.

“You don't know what's under there. There may be asphalt but there may be nothing solid under it and it could cave in. Turn around and go back where you came from,” he says.

In many parts of the Maritimes, residents spent Monday clearing out their flooded basements. And it was a similar story on Tuesday as well. The good news is that the rain is tapering across the region, but not everyone is in the clear just yet.

“The showers will persist through Tuesday evening and overnight, but the good news is the system will finally sink to the south, go out to sea and be replaced with an area of high pressure,” says Patrick Cool, a meteorologist here at The Weather Network. “So there's some clearing skies Wednesday and glorious sunshine for Thursday and Friday,” says Cool.

This powerful storm began affecting the Maritimes last Thursday. By the start of the weekend, thousands of people had lost electricity and air travel had been disrupted.

With files from Lisa Varano, Jill Colton and Andrea Stockton

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